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Rumour at Duxford


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I suppose I understand, don't like it but understand. Majority aren't interested in anything other then a day out/entertainment.

Just that I see things happening that make me weep, and I suppose that I'm disappointed in a way that people don't see historic items/places in the way that myself and many of us do.

Things have to change and museums have to go along with it as long as they want to open and display.

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As a Museum Director, with my heart in MV as a former (lack of time) collector I can understand both sides and it is not an easy task to run a museum.

On one side you have all the collectors, enthusiasts, nerds etc (people like myself) and on the other side you have the general public with less or no special interest (yet) and they all have different demands.


In 2008 it was decided to close the former Tank Museum in Sweden, a museum that opened in 1969 and the only things that had happened during 40 years was that the number of vehicles had increased and the people working i the museum had been changed. Endless rows of vehicles stacked together in old and dark hangars. A paradise for nerds but a nightmare for a whife. The number of visitors was maximum 6000 a year.

In 2009 the museum was closed and we got the task to create a new museum at another location so the entire collection was moved to Strangnas where the new museum opened in 2011.

The debate became absolutely insane.

I can understand that people was upset about closing that museum but sometimes you have to realize that the world is changing and you will have to follow it even if it hurts.


The new Tank Museum museum has fewer vehicles on display, but arranged in a way so that also the general family can understand and find it more interesting. Instead of 6000 enthusiasts we now have 25 000 visitors a year – 25 000 is a lot for a country like Sweden and these people might end up as future enthusiasts.


Money – yes – you need money to keep a museum running and some one will have to pay. The more interesting you can make it the more visitors you will get, but if you are not careful it will turn from a museum to a amusement park.


It is not an easy task and it does not matter how you do it – you will always have people who does not like it.

Every day we have visitors arguing about vehicles that they would like to see and my answer to them is that “if you can agree on what vehicle that is missing we will put it on display” then most people understand.


It is not easy to please everyone, but we do the best we can.


Stefan Karlsson, Director Swedish Tank Museum

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What's the point of gradually turning a museum full of aircraft, trains or vehicles in to an interactive experience; you may as well stay home and show the kids the computer! It has happened to so many museums in the UK its a national disgrace.


Typically you get £30 million Lottery money spent on a museum building when a few spare hangars would suffice, so there is nothing left to pay for exhibits, plus you get 'wardens' acting as security personnel doing the rounds rather than old boys who know about the exhibits and can tell you about them. Perhaps its my age but at one well known war museum in the UK I asked where the exhibits were to do with Burma in WW2 but the warden didn't know what I was talking about as he had never heard of Burma!

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A lot of musuems now seem to rely on Volunteers, don't get me wrong, places like the Mary Rose Musuem have a superb bunch of knowlegable enthusastic volunteers who are great to talk to and share knowledge with. Others however have idiots who when you point out the 'Wartime' Jeep display has a modern synthetic camo net on ask 'What do you know about it?' I pointed out the window to my Dodge WC51 in the car park and replied 'I own and run that'. Retirement of other party. IWM Royal Amouries and the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich are all becoming more Corparate buisnesies now.

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I wonder how people would react if the British Museum was breaking up its collections so they have a bigger coffee shop area. It seems that many of the bigger museums are more interested in corporate events and landmark buildings than preserving artifacts. I do understand that income is a major factor, and new ways to bring money into a museum is important, but not at the expense of the artifacts, stories and history they are meant to be preserving.


The concrete armadilo at Duxford is a great example of form being more important than function. I wonder how much more conventional undercover space could have been created for the same money? A hangar-like structure, built with modern materials and insulation could have housed more exhibits in less cramped conditions, and wouldn't have cost thousands of pounds to open the doors! I do wonder whether management really think through their choices, putting exhibits first in decision making processes. To many outside those meeting rooms, it seems like little thinking goes on.


Let's hope that if the Land Warfare Hall is to go, that it is replaced with something far more practical, or the exhibits find their way to museums who appreciate them.


Time will tell...... ......and breathe! :-)

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Sounds like a management post !!!!:cool2:


On the contrary, I'm not on the volunteer MV committee there any more and haven't been for many years.


Maybe Caddy can enlighten us with what he's found, but I'd prefer to wait for info, rather than condemn based on half of a rumour.

Edited by Lauren Child
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The American Air Museum at Duxford it amazing, its just a beautiful use of concrete, with the sweeping observation ramps.


Its like saying that you don't care what your car looks like on the outside because you are always in it when you are driving. I remember discussing with an American colleague in Boston about the shoddy feel of the switchgear in a chevy hire car we had and he just didn't get it, its just a switch he said, who cares if it feels and sounds luxurious when you rock it. Detail is important, its about micro and macro. Tell me that the National History Museum isn't complemented by its building. Its all important, not just one aspect or another.


Lets be honest, the TM was a shoddy set of drafty buildings with Gauntlet restaurant when I first visited in the early 1990s, when I went back in 2011 it was so much better. It actually felt like someone cared about the exhibits and most importantly cared about the people who were visiting and paying for it all.


I could park up a Sherman V in a hanger with a small card information sheet propped up in front of it - Tank Displayed.

Alternately that same tank could be in a warm modern building which is pleasing to they eye with a movie of it in use playing, an engine sectioned next to it, veterans combat accounts, examples of ammunition etc...

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  • 1 month later...

Just attended Volunteer induction day where was advised there is a 20 year plan to redevelop the LW building and there is no plan to disband the MV collection.:-) (today)

Also the MV day may be reinstated.

So maybe things are looking up.

Must say met a cracking bunch of volunteers doing amazing work.:-D

Keep up the good work chaps and chapesses:cool2:

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No indication of date.

BTW they are replacing the roof of the building as I speak.....dont spend that kind of money unless its for medium/long term.:nut:


I remover in the early 1980's being told that they had to delay the closure of Shotton Steelworks until they had finished the new roof :nut: supposedly the damages from cancelling the contract were so bad it was better to let them finish.......


so don't always take something like a new roof as sign things are ok;)



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  • 1 year later...

Planning application S/1563/18/FL covers the erection of a new conservation and large object storage facility at IWM-Duxford I believe along the line of the long plantation once the Land Warfare Hall demolition. At the moment this application is out for consultation. In a recent article apparently 60-percent of vehicles are privately owned and will leave site. I understand the vehicle section of DAS no longer has a committee and is administered by a paid employee who is new inpost with enthusiasm but little in the way of knowledge of military vehicles. interesting times 

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The team now have an employed project manager, which is a step up.  He works for the volunteer organisation.  I don’t think he’s there to administer the group - it’s still all volunteers.

The new building is for restoration and long term storage.  After a quick google for Duxford Masterplan, you can see more of what they are planning published on the Internet here:  https://museuminsider.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/IWM-Duxford-Masterplan-Appendix-6.pdf

You can see the revised Duxford layout in the planning docs, which is interesting in that context.

If I’ve understood it correctly, the vehicles and land warfare exhibits will be distributed around the site, creating zones and making more of the large objects - combined aircraft, vehicles and artillery in context with each other.

The airliners then move to where the LWH is now, clearing the space at the centre of the site so it’s more focussed on being a war museum (which makes the most of the wartime buildings and airfield).  

Alas the tank running area seems to have gone.  I’m hopeful that will come back, as Duxford is one of the few places you could really see things moving, ground and air.  Separating the restoration and long term storage into the new building would also make a running area a lot more attractive as a visitor attraction.

It’s worth checking out the IWM corporate plan here:


I’ve no idea what vehicles (if any) will be moved, stored, or recovered by owners.  I’d suspect it’s way to early to tell.

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My point being the Land Warfare Hall is going, the application is in for the sites redevelopment at the westerend . The building proposed is interesting in size and layout and will certainly provide conservation and storage area the museum desperately need but at what cost. The LWH when originally built cost one million when extended another one point five million plus work on the roof building the running area and reprofileing that area will now be written off. Yes there is no running area I suspect because of the impracticability of using such an area for parking cars during air-days. Interesting times  

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Seems odd that they don't reinstate the old hanger that was blown up in the BoB film as that space is not really used, and would fit in with the plan to focus on that part of the site being a wartime area. Plus from my limited understanding as there was previously a building there then planning permission would be less of a challenge.

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1 hour ago, lowfat said:

could sling up a T2 removed from another airfield in no time

When  the Land Warfare Hall was first mentioned one of the proposals was a half height T-2 hangar put up on North Side to the East of the Warders Store running north with a running area along the fence line of the back of the officers housing - that would have gone down well

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